Matthew Cossel, a Lehigh University graduate and UN representative for the International Public Relations Association, said the cultural understanding he obtained at Lehigh has been invaluable

Matthew Cossel, a Lehigh University graduate and current representative to the United Nations (UN) for the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), credits his career trajectory to the invaluable connections and unique opportunities afforded by his alma mater.

Reflecting on his journey, Cossel emphasizes the profound impact of Lehigh's Global Union events during his undergraduate years. Cossel was a member of the Global Union all four years, serving as its President during his senior year.

Matthew Cossel at the United Nations headquarters in New York City
Matthew Cossel at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

“I think a large part of my professional career is based on the fact that I have this cultural understanding from hundreds of Global Union events over four years,” he said. “I feel like I learned more at those events, meeting people from around the globe, than I did in any classroom.”

In his role with IPRA, which holds accreditation with both the Department of Global Communications and ECOSOC at the UN, Cossel focuses on promoting ethical public relations practices and trustworthy communication.

His responsibilities include advocating for freedom of speech, human rights, and freedom of the press on a global scale. He attends meetings with organizations worldwide, disseminating crucial information to IPRA members and, ultimately, the UN.

IPRA is also Lehigh’s newest UN NGO partner, and Diya Narayan has been selected to serve as IPRA’s Youth Representative.

“As a first year, it is truly surreal to be representing IPRA at the UN, especially under a highly esteemed Lehigh alum such as Matthew,” Narayan said. “Growing up I’ve always been passionate about human rights and advocacy, and so being able to put that on paper and make my voice heard is something so special to me. I know this opportunity will guide me in the right direction to pursue my future endeavors.” 

Cossel's journey into advocacy began during his time as an undergraduate at Lehigh, where he pursued majors in Global Studies and Journalism. Active involvement in the Lehigh University/United Nations Partnership culminated in an internship within the UN’s Department of Global Communications.

Encouraging current Lehigh students, Cossel underscores the importance of seizing opportunities beyond the classroom. “There are so many incredible events around campus where you meet incredible people,” he advises. “My advice is just to go to as many Global Union events as you possibly can because they're invaluable.”

Matthew Cossels nameplate at the United NationsIn addition to his role as the IPRA representative, Matthew Cossel is employed at KCSA Strategic Communications, a fully integrated agency specializing in public relations, shareholder communications, and social media management. Cossel firmly believes that his experience at the United Nations has significantly enhanced his resume, enabling him to stand out as a distinguished candidate in his field.

“I go into an interview now, and somebody looks at my resume, and they say, ‘Oh, the UN is on there. How did that happen?’“” Cossel said. “”And well, I've got a whole story that I can tell you about. It's definitely the biggest part of my college career that is still important to me today. It's one of the key points on my resume for a lot of public relations jobs; it's like, wow, this guy worked with dignitaries and diplomats at the UN, he can deal with my VP of Communications.”

Lehigh's distinctive partnership with the United Nations, as the sixth university worldwide to gain Non-Governmental Organization status, provides students with unparalleled experiences and connections. Cossel's journey – from intern to paid consultant for a UN conference – serves as a testament to the transformative potential of Lehigh's UN partnership.

Bill Hunter, Director of Fellowship Advising and UN Programs, served as the Global Union’s Director during Cossel’s presidency. Hunter had nominated Cossel for the UN internship and has fond memories of him, both on campus and at the UN.

“Matt was an inclusive leader of the Global Union, always seeking to broaden the conversation on any topic,” Hunter said. “His open-mindedness and strong communication skills serve him well in both his professional career and his critical advisory role in support of the UN. He’s certainly a role model for others who have global aspirations.”